ONE OF Chip Kelly's favorite sayings is "play with emotion, but don't let emotion play with you," so observers frequently wonder what the coach's take is going to be when TV catches something like Mark Sanchez and Riley Cooper yelling at one another before a red-zone snap last Thursday against Dallas.
When Kelly spoke to reporters yesterday for the first time since Thursday night, his take basically was, "Huh? Why are you asking me this?"
What Kelly's snappy saying really means is "don't get suckered into doing anything stupid that will get the team penalized, or get you tossed from a game."
If people want to vent a little, there is no evidence that Kelly really cares. During the buildup to last week's game, when the Eagles' defensive line was asked about facing the vaunted Dallas offensive line, and Kelly's guys said they weren't that impressed, really, Kelly didn't tell them to shut up. As long as players work and study hard, stay focused on team goals, and don't create distractions, they can say pretty much whatever they want. And if they feel the need to, they can yell.
"What they were going to eat for Thanksgiving after the game," Kelly said, when asked what Sanchez and Cooper were arguing about. "Guys yell at guys all the time. I don't know whether that's a big deal. You could catch someone yelling at somebody probably on every play.
"That's not a big deal. I think we weren't in the right formation, we were trying to get lined up. Coop wasn't the guy who wasn't lined up right; there were other guys who weren't lined up the right way . . . I think you guys are making way too much out of it."
The Eagles ended up taking a timeout, then Sanchez threw to Cooper, who didn't seem ready for the ball on a route across the middle on third-and-7 from the Dallas 8. The throw bounced off Cooper and the Eagles settled for one of Cody Parkey's four field goals.
"I think Mark threw it a little early," Kelly said.
"Listen to my headset," Kelly said. "Did you see Tom Brady last night? How was he on the [Lambeau Field] sideline? It's an emotional game played by emotional players, and I think they're playing at a high level. When guys make mistakes, they get not too happy about it. That's part of the game. I'm surprised at the line of questioning. I think that's not the first time people have screamed and yelled at each other out here. It's not a big deal."
The continuing red-zone misfires (1-for-5 at Dallas) could be a big deal, though, given that the Eagles this week will face the NFL's No. 1 defense in the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. (Though Seattle, curiously, ranked 28th in red-zone defense coming out of the weekend. Guess the trick is getting to the red zone, against a team that hasn't allowed a touchdown the past 2 weeks, facing Arizona and then San Francisco.)
"We didn't execute well down there," Kelly said. "We're not going to make any excuses. We've got to correct that, and we've got to do better" against Seattle.
"It'll be the best secondary we'll play," Kelly said. "Obviously, probably the best corner in the league in Richard Sherman. He's got 23 picks since 2011 - eight more than any other player in the league, and there's a reason for that: He's a smart player . . . he's big, he's physical, and he's got great ball skills.
"I think they've got probably the top safety in the game in Earl Thomas. Then they've got a bunch of other guys that are fast, and they're athletic."
Kelly went on to list defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and strong safety Kam Chancellor, before concluding: "They've got players at every single position on the defensive side of the ball. There's a reason they won the Super Bowl last year and there's a reason they held the last two teams they played to three points. They've got a lot of really talented players over there."
The Seahawks are the first Super Bowl champions in at least a decade to win mostly on the strength of their defense; in response, rules on contact downfield were tightened, although they seem to be loosening again as this season progresses. Regardless, in Seattle's games, the Seahawks have been penalized 102 times, their opponents 51 times.
Seattle plays a lot of Cover 3 (two corners and a safety each cover a third of the downfield area, with the strong safety patrolling underneath). But it also plays man very well.
"They're probably 60-40 man-zone. They're very balanced in what they do. They've got their eyes on the quarterback," Kelly said. "They disrupt routes. They've got a lot of guys with good ball skills back there in terms of getting after it. It's a very formidable group."
Kelly called Sherman "a prototype of what everyone wants, and that goes back to Mel Blount, when Mel Blount played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. If there's a tall, long, physical corner, I think anybody in the National Football League would tell you they would want that guy. There's just not that many out there."
Chip Kelly confirmed that a Friday exam showed quarterback Nick Foles' left collarbone is healing but stressed that Foles will need to be examined again before being cleared for contact . . . Wideout Jeremy Maclin, playing on a 1-year deal, split with agent Ben Dogra when Dogra left CAA. The NFLPA says Maclin has opted to stick with CAA and will be represented by John Caplin and Tom Condon. Meanwhile, Fox Sports has reported that Condon is going to be leaving CAA, possibly for Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports Agency. So it's hard to say where Maclin will be in the offseason when it's time to talk contract . . . CBS3 reported that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley will call Kelly today about his coaching vacancy. Kelly is 19-9, in the second season of a 5-year, $32.5 million contract with the Eagles. Last year, when Texas reportedly was interested, Kelly said he had no interest in leaving . . . The Eagles' practice week for Seattle begins today.